SteamWorld Dig is a series that I have briefly played once the first game was made available for free on the PlayStation Plus subscription service. I tried to see what the fuss was all about by testing out the Vita version of the game and despite my best intentions, I wasn’t able to enjoy it as much as I had hoped and dropped it midway. I was curious for SteamWorld Dig 2 since it seemed to be the first proper sequel to the original game after the release of SteamWorld Heist spin-off and right from the start, I was hooked to the game and didn’t stop playing it.
SteamWorld Dig 2 is a genuinely fun game and it has a very addictive gameplay loop. Despite being a game where you have to dig in mines which sounds really boring at first, it offers a lot more than simple digging experience and features a metroidvania type of progression system where you can get new power ups as you progress further in the story. The main story campaign isn’t that long and can take you between 4 to 6 hours depending on how fast you attempt to complete the map, but it is a great experience from the start to the end so the small playtime hardly matters here.
SteamWorld Dig 2 features a brand new protagonist, a steam-driven robot called Dorothy. You will get throwback and references throughout the game to Rusty, the hero to the original game and it is neatly integrated into the main plot which should please the fans who have enjoyed the first game. There are not many games that manage to surprise me and SteamWorld Dig 2 ended up being one of them. I wasn’t expecting a fun and rewarding exploration in SteamWorld Dig 2 but the game easily proved me wrong. It can be also brutal at times if you don’t pay attention to the dangers when mining deep beneath the surface, so it is not as easy as one might expect after looking at its gorgeously animated visuals.
The story in the game is about finding Rusty, the original steam-driven robot and hero of the first game. If you have played SteamWorld Dig and the spin-off Heist, you will enjoy the story presented here. Dorothy also seems to use a pickaxe as the main tool for mining underground as he tries to look for Rusty and starts from his last known whereabouts. As you venture further underground, you will locate new powers that lets you explore even more of the underground levels. There are secrets to discover as well like artifacts or hidden cogs. Artifacts can be exchanged for blueprints to upgrades to your arsenal.
The gameplay featured in SteamWorld Dig 2 is simple. You can move around in a 2D side-scrolling fashion while using a pickaxe in the start. You will have to dig around in mines by using the pickaxe while having a limited time to keep the torch shinning so you can see ahead. You can recharge your torch by killing enemies or returning to the surface. The game doesn’t end if your torch runs out of juice though, but it will be harder to progress because you won’t be able to see much in the dark. This might sound frustrating but since you can upgrade the torch, it motivates you to keep playing and try to squeeze as much fuel as you can get out of the torch while progressing to the deepest part of the underground mines. This is where the game truly shines because the deeper you dig, the more powers you can obtain and the easier it is to upgrade your arsenal leading to a loop where you keep going back and forth to mine resources and perform upgrades.
The upgrades are handled by talking to NPCs and they will need money that you can get by mining resources and then selling them in town. The upper portion of the underground mine won’t offer much but in the later levels, money will easy to come by, although the upgrades also get progressively more expensive so you have to carefully plan which upgrade to perform first. You also earn experience points by killing the enemies you encounter in mines and leveling up will unlock higher level of upgrades and also offer you more bonus if you trade valuables that you get from mining.
If you just try to focus on the main story, you will miss out on plenty of fun. Some of the hidden caves that you can find in the mines have cleverly designed puzzles that need to be completed to get rewards like cogs or artifacts. The charm of the game is trying to discover all of the secrets by yourself and it extends the overall playtime easily. Exploration feels rewarding in SteamWorld Dig 2 and it was one of the reason why I tried my best to explore every nook and cranny in the game.
Overall, I really enjoyed SteamWorld Dig 2 and won’t hesitate to label it one of the best indie games currently playable on the Nintendo Switch. The developers have managed to do the impossible and taken a good game and made it even better with this sequel. I simply can’t wait to see what they have planned in the future.
SteamWorld Dig 2 Review (Switch)
Game Reviewed on: Switch
Game description: SteamWorld Dig 2 is a 2D platform action-adventure video game developed and published by Image & Form. It is the fourth installment in the SteamWorld series of games and the direct sequel to 2013's SteamWorld Dig.
SteamWorld Dig 2 is full of colorful visuals and an excellent upgrade and progression system. It easily stands as one of the best sequel to an indie game released this year.